The luscious scent of warm apple pie is wafting into the dining room from the kitchen, mingling with the roasted herbs, fresh bread, and deep flavors of fall. Recipes passed down through the generations and generous helpings of all-time favorite dishes fill a table as the air is filled with laughter, conversation, and stories from years gone by.
Here, we gather to remember, we share with each other, we connect, creating the memories that will journey with us into the future. The best conversations, and some of the hardest, often happen around a simple piece of furniture designed to gather. We celebrate together and we mourn together around the table.
Around the table is where we create the bonds of family and friendship and build connections with our neighbors and community. Over coffee, while breaking bread is where we find out about each other’s hopes and dreams, struggles, and successes. In a fast-paced world where there is often too much to do in too little time, the precious moments of sitting together to eat, drink, and talk can be the most meaningful. A few stolen minutes to refocus on what matters—the people in our lives and their stories—are what make life about more than just striving forward.
A simple table can be filled with the magic of connection and community and carry the deep meaning of time. This magic is why Ross and Rebecca Beard build tables and are helping build the family-owned company, Rustic Trades Furniture.
Building Rustic Trades Furniture
The story of Rustic Trades starts years before the family business got off the ground. Ross’ brother-in-law promised his sister he would build her a table for their new home. As newlyweds, they wanted a beautiful, meaningful piece of furniture that would last their entire lives. So Clay Adams built his wife a table, and the family gathered around it for their first holiday together. Years later, that simple, loving act had turned into a family affair, and custom furniture was being delivered across the United States—all built in their first workshop in Atlanta, Georgia, by Ross and Clay.
The family quickly realized that they were delivering more than beautiful furniture. People were responding with the same welcoming arms that they would eventually open to invite future guests. They were accepting an heirloom into their home that their children would grow up around. Ross recalled one delivery to Raleigh, North Carolina, where the family was literally hosting a party to welcome the new furniture and watch it transform their space. “Everyone was in there, drinking wine and eating dinner, and they were so excited they came rushing out to the truck, grabbing whatever they could and running back into the house setting up the table,” he described.
As wine was poured and friends helped load the pieces into the house, Ross got to put together the table that would see not only years of life go by, but generations. “The whole time, people were asking questions about the type of wood and how we built it,” he added. “It was really cool to see that enthusiasm for the trade…and it was cool for them to get to talk to the person that made their piece of furniture and shake their hand.”
As Rustic Trades grew, it became clear that a workshop and office in the western U.S. was in order. Clay Adams would stay in Atlanta to build for the the east, while Ross and Rebecca looked for places in Denver to start up a workshop to serve the west. During their search, they stumbled upon a property in Colorado Springs that was ideal for the growing venture. “I really wanted a smaller town,” explained Rebecca. “We just couldn’t say no to this place.”
Woodworking tools, climbing gear, kayaks, and their home furnishings in tow, Ross and Rebecca travelled from Atlanta to start the second Rustic Trades Furniture workshop just outside of downtown Colorado Springs. Sawdust and raw wood, saws and workbenches fill their garage, ready to be a part of creating a beautiful heirloom piece for a family. The workshop property doubles as their home, allowing them to live, work, and play in the beautiful, inspiring setting of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Ross was intrigued by design long before the opportunity to build came his way. As a child, he got a copy of a Frank Lloyd Wright book—the famous architect and designer from the late 1800s and early 1900s—for his 12th birthday and began asking for the tools and equipment to start building and designing his own furniture. “I remember being so inspired,” he said about the thousands of structures Wright designed. Although Ross didn’t truly start building at 12 years old, the inspiration stuck with him. “Years and years and years go by, and all the sudden…I’m doing what I always wanted to be doing.”
Much More than Furniture
A meaningful, quality piece of furniture can help build a home. Whether designed to fit a large or growing family, created to perfectly fill a room, or to match another meaningful item, these pieces become the center of stories, the supporting actor in parties, sometimes even an answer to a long-held prayer for a better life.
“We really see our tables as being a part of community,” Rebecca explained. “It’s a place where people come together and they celebrate different things in life. Or sometimes, they have to have tough conversations around the table. They make plans or they dream….It excites us to know that every table we are taking into a home is helping people continue to pursue their dreams.”
No better story highlights this than the one of a family that the Beards got to work with through the Family Mentor Alliance in Colorado Springs. The Family Mentor Alliance works to help families establish stability, steady housing, and the skills to thrive; these families are often coming out of homelessness or dangerous situations to attempt a new start.
The Beards connected with the Family Mentor Alliance after they decided to donate a custom table to a deserving family. One particular family had moved out of a dangerous neighborhood in California to Colorado where their children could be safe from the gangs and violence of the old community. Showing up at this family’s new home with a beautiful, handcrafted table is something that the Beards won’t easily forget. A safe place to sit and grow together is something the family won’t quickly forget, either.
Preserving the Furniture Trade
The Maker’s Movement has helped many people reconnect with the handmade, but it has also gone further to help preserve the craftsmanship that is lost in the automatic, big-box store, rush delivery system. “I think there’s a little bit of nostalgia to it,” Rebecca remarked. “I think that in a world where everything is so automated and you can order something and have it on your doorstep the next day, there is something preserved when it takes a while to make, when someone is using their gift or creativity and paying attention to every detail. It’s thoughtful.”
The wood with which they work and the sawdust smell of the workshop, along with the time and attention, also create another opportunity to connect. “It’s creating a desire for people to connect with more natural things,” Ross explained. “Technology naturally creates a little disconnection, and I think people are really wanting to feel more connected to their communities—all the way down to their food and the products they are buying. They desire a more authentic connection to things, and I think that’s why there is a resurgence in trades.”
With this in mind, the Beards are focused on doing their part to preserve the trade through creation and through training. As their company grows, they are looking forward to mentoring those who want to learn wood-working and the artistry that goes into custom furniture. The goal: to ensure that handmade never goes out of style.
Gathering around the table is an act of generosity and hospitality. It involves deep love and gratitude. It can lead us to humility and vulnerability. All of these experiences turn a table into a masterpiece. “I personally have a Rustic Trades table, and it’s been through years of good times and not so good times,” said Rebecca. “I will never get rid of that table because it has so much meaning in all of that mixed together. It becomes a conversation piece and place where people are excited to bring friends and family around.”
Rustic Trades brings this reality to families around the United States.
240 Kalamath St.
Denver, CO 80223